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30 Days with My Friends: Rivers, Flies, & Fishes

Authors Intent 1st Draft

By SchmalzPublished 10 months ago Updated 10 months ago 10 min read

Author’s Intent

Like many anglers who have a passion for fishing I can pinpoint the exact moment in time where I fell in love with fly fishing. But what is the appeal for someone to fall in love with such a thing? Or what calls out to a casual fisherman to decide it's time for a fishing trip? Is it the appeal of being in nature and having something to do? Does it trigger some sort of ancient response in our bodies that longs to be felt? Or is it the illusion of peace and serenity that we feel in all of mother nature's beauty? The rhythm one feels when taking the rod back and forth between 10 o’clock and 2? Perhaps it's just the excitement of adventuring out somewhere new just to see what you will be able to find. I'm sure many people could answer these questions in thousands of different ways. In fact if you pulled myself and my fishing buddies aside we would probably each give a different answer for why we're out there by a river throwing a line into water when we could be doing anything else.

This book is intended to share my love for fly fishing, understand the beauty of what fly fishing is, what connection I have to it, and how the rivers and their ecosystems possess a certain spiritual intensity over my being. This is intended to connect to anyone interested in the outdoors, rivers, conservation, newbies, birdwatchers, or anyone who is interested in learning about someone's passion for a hobby and life. This book is not for anyone who is looking to become a better fly fisherman in the sense of catching more fish than they have before or looking for casting and imitation techniques, I certainly am not a guide or even an expert fisherman. This is an average man's love for fly fishing being expressed with the additional question as to why I’m so drawn to something that I would still consider myself to be a novice of after five years of doing it. So once again if you desire to learn something that will practically get more bites than stop reading here. To those of you who are still with me I wish to invite you into the strange, beautiful, and sacred spaces of my heart that fly fishing has brought me to.

I am writing this before my journey begins because I wanted to set the intention for this book to be an immersive exploration into questions about fishing, nature, life, and the human experience. In this book I will be setting out for thirty different solo fly fishing trips because: one, I love to go fly fishing, two, because I wish to explore what that love means and why we can be so drawn to our hobbies, three, perhaps a bit more bold than the others is to understand myself and others through fly fishing and writing about it. How did I get hooked so to speak? I must admit that I do love most outdoor hobbies and have enjoyed being outside since I was a toddler. But I have chosen fly fishing because the art of the rod has a strong connection to me and I’ve never understood why.

I had always felt a strong desire to be a great fisherman and growing up I had never seen a fly rod because like most people, I used what my family had always used. And for my family that meant a spin reel rod using artificial lures or live bait by a lake or pond with my grandparents. As I grew older I naturally branched out into going fishing with my friends more than family where we participated more in being hooligans than fisherman. So you might imagine my astonishment the first time I saw a friend of mine pull out this ginormous 9ft rod with all this bizarre line to it and begin actively casting what I thought was an actual bug that he’d attached to his hook! And that was the first lesson fly fishing gave me in my own stupidity. But I knew from that moment on that fly fishing had an appeal to me.

Fast forward years later as a University student I felt deprived of what my regular access to nature had been growing up. I was extremely frustrated and had just endured many heartbreaks; and so I heard the call of the wild reaching out to me as spending summertime in your college town can sometimes leave you with nothing and no one to be around. So with my youthful attitude that always was looking for any chance to escape to the mountains invigorated my mind. I decided it was time to purchase the cheapest fly fishing rod that money could buy just to start doing it. And how was I going to learn how to pick up this tricky trade? I thought I’d teach myself and I am still finding out how silly I am for still thinking that I’m entirely capable of teaching myself to fly fish. So I ordered a scientific anglers 9ft 5wt rod that came with a reel, backing, fly line, and leader without even knowing what any of that means other than it was recommended for beginners.

The kit also came with a short dvd introducing the basics of how to cast a fly rod, the different types of flies such as dries which float on the top of the water in order to get a trout to rise, streamers to imitate a variety of larger food sources for trout, midges, and nymphs were included as well. So after watching your typical video instructions for casting between 10 and two on a clock to the rhythm of a metronome I decided that I would need some practice before making an absolute fool of myself on the river. So I set out almost everyday for a week in an alleyway that was behind my college house in order to discover how to do this beautiful art. But like all things that possess beauty it was going to be a challenge that terrified me. And so trying to be some heroic autodidact I failed, cast after cast going too far forward and backward with my rod with the same chaotic rhythm that a fish out of water possesses. Then if I did get a good rhythm between 10 and 2 to send my cast out to the ground hoping that maybe a toad would grab my line it would just fall right at my feet. Although I could continue to write about this part of the journey I’ll spare you the rest of these painfully dull details because mostly it was just more of the same and I’ve already embarrassed myself enough. But I was eager to get to the river so one week later I decided it was time for me to have my first fly fishing trip ever on the Big Thompson River. A trip that I will cherish in my memory for all of eternity.

I had left the house in the morning before dawn in order to get to the river and see the sunrise while casting my first line. I was struck immediately by the immense beauty that lies within Big Thompson Canyon which continues to be a favorite drive of mine even though I don’t fish it anymore. Being surrounded by the canyon walls zigging and zagging my way through enlivened my spirits to fish. The dawn was beginning to break as I could see in my rearview mirror the shades of orange and pink turning into what would turn out to be a purely golden sunrise. As I left my car with my rod in hand with a pre-tied elk hair caddis size #14 fly on only because learning how to tie the knots proved to be more difficult for me than learning how to cast. With the great expenses that come with fly fishing my box was quite dismal; I had a few elk hair caddis, one parachute adams, as well as a few midges and nymphs that I cannot recall. The sun was now peering out in its golden blaze across the mountain morning and as I approached the Big Thompson river the voice of it roared through my ears that instantly made me want to be near.

And as I stepped into the water to begin my first cast I simultaneously watched the sunrise in the distance. A moment of instant relief washed over my body as I drew my rod back to begin casting. I could feel my entire being loosening and opening up to the possibilities of the world. Suddenly my body knew it had found a love that would last a lifetime. The thought came through me to know that I would never quit fly fishing and I would always love it. Trying to find a rhythm while listening to the birds chirping and admiring the beauty of the river, the rocks, and the canyon all while the sun was making the colors of the sky dance. But soon some heavy wind came to stay as well as heavy rain. Heavy winds continue to be a major issue for even experienced fly fisherman to be able to cast with the wind taking your line whichever direction it so pleases and I was reminded that mother nature has all the power and control. But I was not deterred by this, it only added my new found love and thoughts of its magnitude invigorated me. Though my casts were dismal I did manage to catch one trout that first day on a cast that I unintentionally had fall just a few feet from my feet and as I was reeling my line in some unlucky trout decided to try my dry fly. Another mystery to add to the book that will always elude me as well as many other outdoor enthusiasts is how you can attempt to do something all day and then once all hope has been lost and you’re giving up, exactly what you wanted happens. I left the river that day with a heart overwhelmed with joy and excitement for where this new found love would take me because I knew that the art was about far more than catching as many fish as possible. With this book, I wish to continue my progression as a person and outdoorsmen with many solitary fly fishing trips under their belt.

As I wrote above this will be my fifth year of fly fishing now and this year I desire to become more serious and driven towards this love of mine. A homecoming on the river where I too flow and ebb into some mysterious new world of rock and water. For me fly fishing is a seeking for some question that I don’t even know I have, as if my thoughts and feelings resemble the trout leaping out of some mysterious place that livens my soul, brings me to a new understanding of reality, or just a sense of peace and serenity for a moment, than forever eludes me. It thrusts sometimes unbelievable terror and beauty upon me but I always leave reassured and my spirits feeling renewed. A sense of connection to the world and people around me though there is much that I still don’t understand, hence why I am writing this book. Each trip will be accompanied with different topics of thoughts from before, during, and after each journey. I am hoping and expecting this to be as much of an exploration for me as it is for the audience. So shall we embark on the rivers road together and dine on the thoughts of ever elusive beauty that lay around life's many bends?


About the Creator


Welcome to my page! I am a writer whose interests are vast and believes in the art of the word. In my writing you will find Non-Fiction, Fiction, and poetry in pursuit of the value of language.

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